D.C. Voting Rights

April 11, 2008 • Volume 18, Issue 14
Should Washington citizens have a vote in Congress?
By Colin Soloway

Introduction

Demonstrators demand voting representation in Congress for Washington's 580,000 residents during a protest on Capitol Hill on April 17, 2007.  (Getty ImagesAlex Wong)
Demonstrators demand voting representation in Congress for Washington's 580,000 residents during a protest on Capitol Hill on April 17, 2007. (Getty ImagesAlex Wong)

This November, in addition to electing a new president, Americans will vote for a third of the Senate and every member of the House. The 535 lawmakers in Congress represent the interests of 300 million citizens on vital issues from war and peace to taxes and spending. But the District's 580,000 residents have no such representatives to vote their interests. Last year the House passed a bill to provide the District with a full vote in the House for the first time in 200 years, but a Republican filibuster blocked the measure in the Senate. Voting-rights advocates argue that there is no constitutional barrier to representation, while opponents insist the Framers clearly intended not to give the District a vote in Congress. In the final analysis, however, advocates blame party politics for Washington's voteless status, saying Washington is heavily Democratic, and Republicans are loathe to giving them more muscle in Congress.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Reapportionment, Redistricting, and Representation
Feb. 25, 2011  Redistricting Debates
Apr. 11, 2008  D.C. Voting Rights
Feb. 16, 2001  Redistricting
Aug. 12, 1994  Electing Minorities
Feb. 15, 1991  Redistricting: Drawing Power with a Map
Feb. 05, 1982  Reapportionment: Year of Decision
Sep. 30, 1964  Reapportionment Struggle
May 03, 1961  Reapportionment in the Courts
Oct. 29, 1958  Unequal Representation
Oct. 10, 1950  Representation in the United Nations
Jan. 03, 1950  Legislative Apportionment
Nov. 08, 1938  Proportional Representation
May 13, 1929  The Census and Reapportionment
Dec. 06, 1927  Apportionment of Representatives in Congress
BROWSE RELATED TOPICS:
Domestic Issues
Party Politics
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